BREAKING: Blaha (Maybe) Makes Ballot, Frazier Getting Recount, Everyone Yelling at Everyone Else

UPDATE #6: We’re going to be completely honest with you here…we have no idea how to sum this up for the night. We can all try again tomorrow.

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UPDATE #5: Of course he is…

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UPDATE #4: Uhhhhh…


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UPDATE #3: And weirder:


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This would have to calm down to be called a dumpster fire.

This would have to calm down just to be classified as a dumpster fire.

UPDATE #2: So, apparently Ryan Frazier was not approved for the Primary ballot…BUT…a judge has ordered the Secretary of State’s office to recount Frazier’s petitions. This whole thing just gets weirder and weirder and weirder.

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UPDATE: Blaha calls for Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams to resign after being ruled back on the ballot: blahastatement —– That’s the word from Colorado Secretary of State spokesperson Lynn Bartels, Republican Senate candidate Robert Blaha will appear on the June GOP U.S. Senate primary ballot after an apparently successful challenge to being ruled insufficient on valid petition signatures:

We’re still waiting for news on Ryan Frazier–the temporary injunction has reportedly been extended by half an hour (5:30PM MDT) to give them time to wrap up. Watch this space for updates.

SD-27 Democrat Tom Sullivan Nets Huge Kickoff Haul

SD-27 candidate Tom Sullivan (D).

SD-27 candidate Tom Sullivan (D).

A press release from Democratic Colorado Senate candidate Tom Sullivan, running in a “reach goal” race in Senate District 27 against appointed Republican Sen. Jack Tate, shows “Sully” off to a smashing start:

Newly released campaign finance numbers tell a compelling story about an unlikely candidate: not only is Tom Sullivan, the Democratic candidate in the State Senate race for District 27 getting an effective populist message out but that a significant number of voters are literally buying into his fight for the middle class.

For the first quarter of 2016, Sullivan has raised $30,876, toppling Republican opponent Jack Tate’s first quarter contributions eight times over. Sullivan’s opponent is also under a campaign finance complaint investigation for rolling over too much money from his State House to State Senate committee. Notwithstanding, they are now nearly neck-and-neck in total funds raised.

Sullivan is known in the community as the father of Alex Sullivan, one of twelve murdered in the 2012 Aurora theatre shooting. He’s also an Air Force veteran and retired postal worker; none of these experiences reveal any sort of political acumen, and when filing to run on February 23, few could have seen the powerhouse he would soon become…

That’s a head-turning quarterly take for a state legislative race without a doubt, and as the Democratic Senate Campaign Fund reports in a separate release, Jack Tate has his own problems:

tatexfer

According to state statute, campaign committees have a limit to the amount of money they can roll over from one race to another, intended to prevent campaigns from dodging contribution limits when pursuing higher office.* It’s a significant violation, both financially and ethically, and one that people familiar with campaigns or business should know about. That’s why Tate’s alleged violation is surprising: he’s the self-proclaimed pro-business candidate in Senate District 27.

“He runs on the idea that since he knows how to run a business, he can run a Senate seat. But with such an obvious violation of Colorado law, it’s evident his campaign has a troublesome problem with adhering very clear finance guidelines,” says Ali Vail, the claimant who filed the violation. “It’s bad business, pure and simple.”

*Colorado Constitution, rule 2.2.4(b)(3). The amount limit is $22,125. Tate’s campaign rolled over $27,736.67 — $5,611.67 more than the legal limit.

A sloppy error for Tate if the complaint bears out–and combined with Sullivan’s powerful show of support since launching his campaign in late February, it’s more evidence that this race will be competitive in ways that the voter registration breakdown in the district can’t account for. Tate is an undistinguished junior legislator who was just appointed to his Senate seat. He has no real advantage in this race whatsoever, only a slightly more favorable ratio of registered Republicans to Democrats in an overall competitive district.

No folks, it’s Sullivan–his story, and now the strength he is showing as a candidate–that makes this race special.

John Kasich Drops Out of Presidential Race

This is what Ohio Gov. John Kasich looks like.

This is what Ohio Gov. John Kasich looks like.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is dropping out of the race for the Republican Presidential nomination. From CNN:

Kasich’s decision came after he improbably became the last challenger to Donald Trump, who emerged as the presumptive GOP nominee Tuesday night when Ted Cruz dropped out.

Even before winning his home state of Ohio in March, Kasich was facing pressure to get out of the race, with no clear path to victory. His campaign never became more than a spoiler run, designed to keep Trump from getting the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination before a contested convention.

Kasich obviously wasn’t going to defeat GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, but he could have just stopped campaigning and pulled an “Office Space.”

#NeverTrump #MaybeTrump #CrapIt’sTrump

RedState Gathering Moves Mountains To Denver

In mid-August, most of the conservative media- and pundit-sphere will descend on Denver for the 8th Annual RedState Gathering at the Grand Hyatt:

redstatesneffels

We’re excited to bring the 2016 RedState Gathering to Denver, Colorado! Join us, along with hundreds of other grassroots activisits, as we rally 90 days before the most important election of our lifetime. History is ours for the making.

The RedState gathering is a big deal among the conservative glitterati, with the host committee for the conference including such big names as Hugh Hewitt, Katie Pavlich, and Erick Erickson. Also our favorite local carnival barker and radio host Peter Boyles, which proves they aren’t doing background checks.

And yes, folks, you’ll notice that their website’s splashy graphic of the Denver skyline does not have mountains found anywhere near Denver depicted in it. After some time spent looking closely, we think that’s the Sneffels Range located in the San Juan Mountains. If that’s right, we can at least congratulate RedState for Photoshopping in mountains that are actually located in the state of Colorado, which a lot of Republican campaigns have had trouble with over the years. With that said it’s a 325-mile drive from Denver to the Sneffels Wilderness, so this picture is as close as attendees are going to get.

Hopefully boring old Mount Evans isn’t too much of a letdown.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (May 4)

JarJarMoreSmarterMay the Fourth Be With You. If you’re confused about that, click here. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Texas Sen. Ted Cruz officially ended his bid for the Republican Presidential nomination on Tuesday after getting crushed in the Indiana Primary by GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus threw in the towel fairly early last night with a not-particularly-celebratory Tweet:

The #NeverTrump movement is apparently considering its options in the wake of Trump’s big victory on Tuesday. We’re not sure what “options” are left to consider, but we suppose it’s nice for the anti-Trump GOP forces to pretend that they still have something to do. It’s not all bad news for Cruz, meanwhile; he still has a good-paying job that doesn’t require him to do anything.

On the Democratic side, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders won a surprise victory in Indiana over frontrunner Hillary Clinton, though it doesn’t change the math equation — it’s still not mathematically possible for Sanders to defeat Clinton. The Democratic frontrunner is increasingly turning her attention toward the General Election, even more so now that she knows Trump will be her opponent.

► The U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Jon Keyser is purring along like the engine of a  a 1982 Datsun. Keyser is racking up more bad press in the wake of news that his petition signatures for access to the June 28th Primary may be tainted by fraud. As Marshall Zelinger of Denver7 reports:

A Colorado voter told Denver7 that someone forged her signature on a petition to place Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser on the ballot for the June primary election.

Pamela Niemczyk of Littleton told Denver7’s Marshall Zelinger on Tuesday that she had signed a petition for Jack Graham, another Republican U.S. Senate candidate.She said the signature on the Keyser petition was not hers, calling it a “fraud.” [Pols emphasis]

Watch Zelinger’s report:

Keyser was a guest on KOA radio on Monday afternoon, during which he defended his “petitioners” and generally crapped on the Secretary of State’s officeJohn Frank of the Denver Post has more on the GOP Senate race that is “plagued by turmoil”:

Colorado’s U.S. Senate race spiraled deeper into turmoil Tuesday as two  scorned Republican candidates battled in court to qualify for the ballot and outside critics alleged fraud.

The controversies come before the Wednesday deadline to certify which candidates will appear on the June primary ballot — a date extended five days by a previous court order to make room for the candidates’ lawsuits. District Court Judge Elizabeth Starrs said she intends to issue a decision by the 5 p.m. deadline.

Republicans Robert Blaha and Ryan Frazier are hoping to find out today that they will be able to claim a spot on the June 28th Primary ballot.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Gardner said Trump can’t win. Woods favored him. What say local Republicans now?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The local response to Trump’s big win last night should catch the attention of journalists now, with Colorado Republicans coming to grips with Trump as the presumptive GOP nominee.

On the pro-Trump side, as I’ve blogged many times, there’s apparently only one elected official in the state of Colorado who’s actually factually called Trump one of her favorite candidates, and that’s State Sen. Laura Woods of Westminster, whose race in November will likely decide whether Democrats take complete control of state government in Colorado. Yet, she’s never been asked about her fondness for Trump. (See video below.)

As I chronicled previously, other Colorado Republicans are divided on whether they’ll back Trump.

One Republican who’s refused to say whether he’d support Trump is Rep. Mike Coffman, who’s handling of Trump could affect the outcome of his contested congressional race in Aurora against Democratic State Sen. Morgan Carroll. (Rep. Ken Buck, who called Trump a “fraud,” has also been undecided about backing the mogul.)

In February, Coffman wouldn’t say if he’d get behind Trump, if Trump won the nomination. What say he now?

Then there’s Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, who thinks Trump cannot win. Back on Februray 4, three months before Donald Trump became the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Gardner hopped on a Denver radio station and told the world (or at least a cloistered conservative corner of it) that Donald Trump cannot win the general election.

Gardner: ‘The bottom line is this. There is only one way to prevent a third term of Barack Obama, and that is to elect a Republican nominee as president. I believe the only person who can win the November election and the Republican nomination is Marco Rubio.” (Listen to the Feb. 4 podcast here at 7:20 or below.)

Whoops. Or maybe not?

Gardner, who once called Trump a “buffoon” and won’t really say if he’d even support Trump,  is of course not the only Republican who said point-blank that Trump can never win in a general election. But what say he now that Trump is the Republican man of the year?

There’s some interesting GOP explaining to do now, and let’s hope we’ll see journalists making sure it happens.

(more…)

Ted Cruz Exits Presidential Race After Indiana Defeat

trumpburn

The fat lady appears to have sung in the Republican presidential race. Politico:

Ted Cruz is quitting the presidential race, according to campaign manager Jeff Roe, ending one of the best-organized campaigns of 2016 after a series of stinging defeats left Donald Trump as the only candidate capable of clinching the nomination outright.

Cruz had appeared likely to go all the way to the Republican convention, but a string of massive losses in the Northeast, and his subsequent defeat in Indiana, appear to have convinced him there’s no way forward.

Well folks, that day every downticket Republican has dreaded, in Colorado from Rep. Mike Coffman and the Senate clown car on down, is finally upon us. Now the hardest question in American politics today–whether Republicans will support the most divisive major party nominee in half a century as their standard bearer in the 2016 general election–must be answered.

And the craziest election season of our lives, at least so far, is about to begin anew.

BREAKING: Apparent Fraud Uncovered in U.S. Senate Race

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE #4: The Denver Post’s John Frank:

The signature of one voter, Pam Niemczyk of Littleton, raised particular questions because it appeared on two petitions in different handwriting.

Niemczyk said she remembers signing a petition for Graham outside a local grocery store but not Keyser.

“I have seen my signature for Jack Graham and I have seen my signature for Jon Keyser and I can definitely say the one for Jon Keyser is not my signature,” she said in an interview. “It’s forged.” [Pols emphasis]

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POLS UPDATE #3: Coincidentally, a former candidate for Denver city council was just sentenced today by the Denver District Attorney’s office for falsifying signatures on a petition for ballot access.

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POLS UPDATE #2: Marshall Zelinger at 7NEWS reports, bad news for Jon Keyser:

Pamela Niemczyk of Littleton told Denver7’s Marshall Zelinger on Tuesday that she had signed a petition for Jack Graham, another Republican U.S. Senate candidate. She said the signature on the Keyser petition was not hers, calling it a “fraud.” [Pols emphasis]

…The Keyser campaign issued a statement blasting U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, the Democratic incumbent whom he and other Republican candidates are vying to challenge in the November general election.

“Senator Michael Bennet’s liberal friends, ProgressNow Colorado, embarrassed his campaign yet again today with a flailing stunt that clearly telegraphs to the entire political world how scared Michael Bennet is to face Jon Keyser in November,” Keyser spokesman Matt Connelly said in the statement. “…The entire political world knows Jon Keyser will be on the ballot and we appreciate Progress Now’s invitation to highlight for conservatives across the country that Jon Keyser is Senator Bennet’s worst nightmare.”

Whether or not it was political stunt, Denver7 confirmed that the Littleton voter said someone forged her signature on the Keyser petition.

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POLS UPDATE: This could be about to get very serious for Jon Keyser, as 7NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger confirms apparent fraud in Keyser’s submitted petitions:

Watch this space for updates, uh-oh…

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With time running out on a temporary injunction against the finalization of the 2016 Republican U.S. Senate primary ballot, ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, called on the Colorado Secretary of State’s office to re-examine petition signatures submitted in the U.S. Senate race. This request comes after a cursory investigation of the Secretary of State’s own data revealed several invalid petition signatures that evidently slipped through the cracks, and at least one wrongly accepted duplicate signature that appears to be fraudulent.

“Our review of just a sample of Jon Keyser’s petitions in one congressional district has found enough uncaught invalid signatures to raise serious questions about whether Jon Keyser has in fact qualified for the Republican primary ballot,” said ProgressNow Colorado political director Alan Franklin. “The Secretary of State must immediately rescind their statement of sufficiency for Jon Keyser, and request an extension of the temporary injunction now in place to revisit errors and potential fraud in the signature validation process. ‘Close enough’ isn’t good enough for Colorado voters.”

After petition documents were made available for inspection by the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, a cursory review of Jon Keyser’s signatures in one congressional district found at least six invalid duplicate signatures that were not discarded in the Secretary of State’s signature validation process. The signatories appear in the accepted signature reports for both U.S. Senate candidates Jack Graham and Jon Keyser. Based on Keyser’s total validated petition signatures in one congressional district (CD-1), fourteen additional invalid signatures would put Keyser below the minimum number required to appear on the 2016 ballot.

At least one duplicate signature accepted for Keyser, a voter whose signature was also accepted for Jack Graham, appears to be fraudulent. A visual inspection of the signatures plainly shows the same name filled out in different handwriting. [1]

“Our brief look at the petitions for Jon Keyser has raised serious questions, and after he barely qualified for the ballot, every single signature matters,” said Franklin. “Our sample of petition signatures has revealed previously uncaught errors, as well as a potential for outright fraud, that could change everything in this race. Unless the Secretary of State takes the time to re-verify every petition signature, no one can have confidence in the Republican U.S. Senate primary ballot.”

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (May 3)

Get More SmarterEnjoy your day in the sun, Indiana. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Attorneys for Republican Senate candidates Robert Blaha and Ryan Frazier are in a Denver courtroom today arguing that their clients should be placed on the June 28th Primary ballot even though they failed to meet the criteria for submitting valid petition signatures to the Secretary of State’s office. Both Blaha and Frazier want more time to figure out how to bend the rules like Jon Keyser did last week (Keyser, you’ll recall, also failed to make the ballot until he got his attorneys involved).

Meanwhile, Keyser was a guest on KOA radio Monday afternoon, where he proceeded to bash the “bureaucrats” at the Secretary of State’s office.

 

► Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz is in full-out panic mode as voters head to the polls in Indiana today. From the Washington Post:

Cruz came to Indiana to try to resuscitate his flagging campaign at a pivotal moment in the Republican presidential race. But with just one day of campaigning left until Tuesday’s vote — and after a series of desperation measures — the freshman senator from Texas is on the verge of a defeat that would ravage his campaign and raise new questions about whether his mission to stop the mogul has become futile.

An NBC News-Wall Street Journal-Marist poll released Sunday showed Trump leading Cruz by 15 points in Indiana. Other recent public polls have shown Trump leading by narrower margins.

Supporters hoped that Indiana, which has similarities to other Midwestern states Cruz has won, would be able to heal the deep wounds left by Cruz’s blowout losses in six straight states. But it has been very difficult for Cruz to gain traction in the face of relentless attacks from Trump and hiccups in his own effort.

It may not be fair to say that Cruz is cracking…he’s cracked. This morning he went on a diatribe about GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, calling him a “narcissist” and a “philanderer,” among other names.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Loan Sharks: An Incredible Political Loser

loanshark2With the Colorado House set to take up Senate Bill 16-185 tomorrow, this year’s bill to allow subprime personal lenders to jack up interest rates on larger loan amounts, the Center for Responsible Lending is out with a poll today of Coloradans’ opinions of the subprime lending industry–and whether they agree these lenders should be able to rake in even more interest on the least qualified borrowers.

No surprise: Coloradans say not just no, but oh hell no:

Raising the cost of these consumer loans is so unpopular with voters that 77% of those surveyed said they would be more likely to vote against a state legislator who voted to increase interest rates. The strongest opposition – 93% – came from voters with household incomes of $30,000 to $50,000 the voters most likely to be affected by a proposal now before the Colorado legislature.

A bill currently before the Colorado legislature would increase the interest rates that lenders could charge on all consumer loans larger than $1,000. Senate Bill 185 would increase the interest rates on most loans by over 2 percentage points. This would result in a 10% increase in the cost of these loans. The bill, pushed by OneMain, a large lender, would cause these rates to rise higher each year. Current borrowers have an average household income of $46,000.

With reference to a prior iteration of the proposal, 89% of those surveyed said they opposed raising interest rates from 28% to 36% on a $3,000 loan. The opposition was similarly strong among Republicans and Democrats and independents. Seventy-five percent of voters “strongly opposed” increasing the rates. Senate Bill 185 woud raise the rates on such loans from 28% to over 30%, and would cause rates to rise automatically over time.

Here’s the details of CRL’s survey. These numbers reveal an industry that, although they are doing a robust business in Colorado, remains deeply unpopular with the public, and garners absolutely no sympathy from their arguments that higher interest is necessary to “remain profitable.” There’s little doubt that the industry is well aware of their dubious reputation with the public, which explains why subprime lender lobbyists have run last-minute bills two years in a row in hope of limiting public awareness of what was happening.

With support somewhere in the Paris Hilton/root canal/Republican Congress abyss, no politician with a sense of self-preservation should be caught anywhere near these loan sharks. We’ll see tomorrow if that lesson is getting through in the Democratic-controlled House, where similar legislation rushed through last year on a 62-2 vote–and left a lot of Democrats making awkward excuses to angry constituents.

Fact Check: Keyser Wrongly Blames SOS for Ballot Fiasco

(Blame the Secretary of State’s office. Good call! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

U.S. Senate candidate John Keyser is blaming his campaign’s initial failure to qualify for the GOP primary ballot on a “bureaucrat” in the CO Secretary of State’s Office.

Keyser: “It was an interesting week. It wasn’t too dramatic for us. We had double and triple-checked our signature process and everything…. We had a secretary of state that said we had a problem. We were a few signatures short in one of the congressional districts. But we knew we were okay. We were very confident about that. It took a couple days, but I’m on the ballot now and ready to beat Michael Bennet.

Connell: What was the confusion…

Keyser: We had a guy who was working for us for months, collecting signatures. He did a great job, doing that. Now the secretary of state, not actually the secretary of state, but a bureaucrat that works in that office decided that he couldn’t quite tell who that person was, whether in fact he was a registered voter. He was of course. He had been registered as a Republican for years and everything. We know we didn’t have any issue there. Unfortunately, we had to go to court to take care of it, but were’ moving on.

Here’s what actually happened, per The Denver Post’s John Frank and Mark Matthews:

Keyser missed the mark in one congressional district because the address for one of the petition collectors did not match the registered voter file, as required by law. [BigMedia emphasis]

So the evil bureaucrat in the secretary of state’s office was just following the law!

A judge later determined that the Keyser campaign made the error, but she determined that Keyser came close enough to following the rules that she let his name appear on the ballot–in the interest of giving voters a choice. Close call for Keyser. If he had been following the rules, he wouldn’t have needed the judge’s decision.

So Keyser’s “double” and “triple” checking did not uncover the error, which was discovered by the secretary of state’s office. Despite this, Keyser tries to blame a government official who was just following the law.

Connell should make an on-air correction, stating that Keyser delivered misinformation on her show.

(more…)

Blaha, Frazier Appeal SOS Ruling, Seek Primary Ballot Access

From Lynn Bartels in the Colorado Secretary of State’s office:

This was an expected move after Republican Senate candidates Robert Blaha and Ryan Frazier were informed by the Secretary of State’s office that they did not have the required number of valid petition signatures in order to be included on the June 28th Primary ballot.

Fellow Republican Senate candidate Jon Keyser filed his own (successful) appeal of a similar decision early last week. Both Blaha and Frazier are probably counting on a district court judge to grant them the same leniency on petition rules.

Jack Graham and the GOP’s Trump Dilemma

thuglifetrumpIn an interview this weekend with 9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman for Balance of Power, GOP U.S. Senate candidate Jack Graham captures the essence of problem–not just for himself, but any Republican candidate for office running downticket from increasingly presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump:

Asked if he was trying to have it both ways by simultaneously expressing support and opposition to Donald Trump’s candidacy, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jack Graham had a simple answer: “Yeah. I would like to have it both ways.” [Pols emphasis]

“…I have said I don’t like [Trump’s] behavior. I don’t respect his behavior,” Graham said. “His conversations about Mexicans, about women, about Muslims, have been unacceptable to me.”

From there, the former NFL player turned candidate quickly pivoted to the flipside, calling Trump his “teammate.”

“He and I are on the same team. We’re both members of the Republican party,” Graham said. “Throughout my career, with teammates, I’ve said we’ve got to tell each other the truth. That’s how you make the team better.”

Jack Graham.

Jack Graham.

Sure it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but this could honestly be the most honest answer we’ve seen from any Republican on Trump’s divisive campaign yet. It’s not objectively possible for a well-adjusted adult to defend the things that Trump has said on the stump, and yet every Republican in America faces the prospect of not just having to excuse Trump’s statements, but to actively support him all the way through November in the likely event he wins the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.

We don’t envy anyone trying to defend their own political aspirations as a member of the Party of Trump™, but the fact remains that they will all have to do it before the end. There are a variety of approaches to this delicate question, from full-throated embrace of Trump’s rhetoric to the more standoffish version of Trump apologetics we’re seeing from Graham.

But as 9NEWS continues, all roads lead to the same end:

Graham characterized Trump as improving in the areas he’s concerned about, referencing Trump’s recent foreign policy speech.

“I do think [Trump has] the capacity to be something different if he in fact is in the White House,” Graham said. [Pols emphasis]

And with that, Jack Graham cashes in his credibility with the November electorate.

But hey, what can he do? He has no choice.